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Isotopic insights into the jar-and-coffin mortuary ritual of the Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 October 2020

Louise Shewan*
School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne, Australia
Richard Armstrong
Research School of Earth Sciences, The Australian National University, Australia
Dougald O’Reilly
School of Archaeology and Anthropology, The Australian National University, Australia
Siân Halcrow
Department of Anatomy, University of Otago, New Zealand
Nancy Beavan
Institute of Environmental Science and Research Limited, Porirua, New Zealand
Tep Sokha
Ceramic Conservation Laboratory, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
*Author for correspondence: ✉


The use of coffins and jars as funerary receptacles was common across Southeast Asia. During the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries AD, cremation was the dominant mortuary tradition on the Angkorian plains, but in the Cardamom Mountains to the south, contemporaneous groups practised a unique burial tradition involving the deposition of un-cremated bone in exposed ceramic vessels and log coffins. The authors present the first geochemical analysis of individuals from this highland culture, specifically the site of Phnom Pel. The childhood diets of those interred in jars and coffins may have been sourced from different areas within the Cardamom Mountains, suggesting that the individuals came from discrete groups.

Research Article
Antiquity , Volume 94 , Issue 378 , December 2020 , pp. 1575 - 1591
Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Antiquity Publications Ltd

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